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A trading center for farmers, Steptoe lies on the floor of a wide valley. During harvest season trucks and wagons, piled high with sacks of grain, lumbered into town to unload at the warehouses and elevator along the tracks, where boxcars stood on the sidings. It was named for Lieut. Col. Edward J. Steptoe, U.S. Army, who suffered reverses in a Native American battle on May 17, 1858, near Rosalia to the north. The fight and subsequent retreat by the units of the U.S. Army is called the battle of Steptoe Butte. An early name for the place was Steptoe Station. Steptoe joined the U.S. Army in 1837 as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the 10th Infantry on September 9, 1861 resigning on November 1, 1861.